Nigerian Army Accused of Unlawfully Detaining Girls Escaping Boko Haram Captivity

A recent report by a human rights organization has accused the Nigerian army of illegally detaining girls and young women who have escaped from Boko Haram captivity. The organization claims that the military believes these individuals support the Islamist insurgent group. The allegations are based on numerous interviews conducted over several years with female former captives.

According to the report, a significant number of the interviewees stated that they were unlawfully held in military barracks for varying durations, ranging from a few days to nearly four years, primarily due to their perceived association with Boko Haram. The insurgent group has been waging an armed rebellion in Nigeria’s Northeast, resulting in a staggering number of deaths. Boko Haram is notorious for its brutality, facing accusations of torture, rape, forced marriage, and kidnapping, with the most well-known incident being the abduction of hundreds of girls from Chibok in 2014.

The regional director for the human rights organization in West and Central Africa criticized the Nigerian government for failing to protect and adequately support these girls and young women. However, the military spokesperson denied the allegations, stating that the Nigerian military respects human rights, upholds humanitarian law, and operates within the boundaries of international law of armed conflict.

The Nigerian military has launched a counteroffensive against the Islamist group, which has also drawn criticism for its harsh tactics. A previous investigation revealed that the military secretly conducted a mass abortion program as part of its war against Boko Haram.